Friday, November 12, 2010
My Mother-in-Law came over today. I thought she seemed emotionally tired. As always, I asked her if she would like me to make some coffee.
Note, if your Mother-in-Law is Brazilian and drinks coffee, always ask if she would like some the moment she arrives at your place. Coffee is almost as important as the kiss on the cheek. If she says, "no, it's ok. I don't want to cause you any trouble." The correct answer is, "It is no trouble at all." Yes, there is a right answer and no, it really isn't a big deal to make a pot of coffee.
If she should say "Only if you are making yourself some or only if you are going to have some", there are numerous answers but it all ends up with you making coffee. I usually opt to just drink some. There's about a tablespoon in that tiny cup and it saves me from using up my allotted Portuguese words for the day.
I have found that after a certain number of Portuguese words, my brain stops producing them. You'd think after 5 years my brain would stop going on strike but it persists. I think it's as stubborn as I am. Go figure.
Anyway, today I asked her if she'd like some coffee. She looked at me, sighed, and said "yes, yes I would."
I didn't know what to do with myself at first. A direct answer from someone down here?! There was a little fizz and a bit of smoke came out of my ears.
After all these years, I thought I would be so happy without the typical hoop jumping, but instead it saddened me. First off, I had my jumping shoes on and ready to go. Secondly, I missed the social norms, the prearranged opening script. A huge red flag started waving over her head, warning warning something amiss.
And honestly, there was. It sucked to see someone I love hurt and so emotionally worn.
Of course, coffee was served and emotions started to flow, venting was done, and everyone was a smidgen lighter. Not only is coffee a great Brazilian crop and a potential social landmine for foreigners, it's an opportunity to sit and share.